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June in the low desert

watering | what to plant | pruning | fertilization | problems

June in the low desert is generally the driest and hottest month. Desert gardeners often must begin their garden activities in the early morning or at sunset to avoid the intense sunlight. Plants must endure the intense heat throughout the day. Many native and desert-adapted plants have numerous adaptations that enable them to live successfully in the desert, such as succulence, drought-deciduousness and small leaves, to name a few examples. Even with these numerous adaptations, desert plants sometimes need a little help to keep them healthy and thriving in your garden. Native and desert-adapted plants that were newly planted and those that are not established in the landscape need to be watered until they become established in the landscape and can then survive with natural rainfall. Even established plantings will need an occasional supplemental watering during long periods of drought to keep them healthy and stress-free.

Summer is the prime time for many night-blooming cacti to exhibit their showy and often fragrant flowers. The Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) is known to have one of the most breathtaking and sweetly-scented blooms of North American cacti. The Garden is abuzz when the first blossoms appear and this excitement will continue as flowers will often appear in flushes through July. Come join us for Flashlight Tours May - August to learn more about the night ecology of our desert plants and you just might see the elusive Queen of the Night making her nighttime debut.

If you encounter a Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), look upward and you will see large fruits bursting open on its stems. The outside of the fruit is smooth and lime-green, but when they split open a luscious, scarlet color is revealed with approximately 2,000 tiny seeds inside. The fruits are a significant food source for many desert animals. The fruits and seeds are also edible to humans and have a delicate, sweet taste. 

The fruits of many Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.) and other cacti are ripening. The fruits of Indian Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) and Engelmann’s Prickly-pear (Opuntia engelmannii) are considered the sweetest tasting. Fruits can be prepared to make a variety of delicious dishes and are highly nutritious.

The Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris) and Elephant Tree (Pachycormus discolor) should be blooming, usually after they have dropped most of their leaves for the summer. Boojum Tree flowers are cream-colored, sweetly scented and attract a variety of insects. Elephant Tree flowers are rosy to white in color and frequented by bees.

Many Agaves (Agave spp.) can be flowering. Agaves are monocarpic, producing flowers and seeds only once and then they will expire. Many agaves can also reproduce asexually through the formation of bulbils and/or pups. Bulbils are developed on the flowering stalk and pups are formed from underground stems. These two asexual forms are genetically identical to the parent plant or “clones." For more information on how to plant bulbils check out our FAQ’s.

Shade protection may be necessary for many plants including cacti, agaves and other succulents. Even vegetables like tomatoes, bell and chile peppers will need to be shaded. Shade cloth can be purchased at your local nursery. Shade cloth rated between 30-60% works best. Keep the shade cloth on your plants for the duration of the summer.

Many of the leguminous trees and shrubs are producing their fruits or pods. Some are edible while others are not and can be quite toxic like the Texas Mountain Laurel (Calia secundiflora syn. Sophora secundiflora). However, fruits of our native Mesquites such as Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) are often prepared to produce flour which can be used in a variety of recipes. If you do not harvest your mesquite pods, allow the pods to fall and remain on the ground for desert animals to eat as they are a vital food resource. It might even help distract them from eating your most prized plants.

If it has been a good flowering year for Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) you will notice an abundance of fruits on the female plant. Jojobas are dioecious meaning male and female flowers are produced on separate individual plants. The fruits are somewhat bitter tasting but are used in a variety of products such as cosmetics, lubricants, soaps, and pharmaceuticals. Jojoba is also an effective drought-tolerant evergreen ornamental; however it can be slow growing without supplemental irrigation.

With proper plant selection, you can provide your garden with color as there are many native and desert-adapted plants that will continue to flower through the summer and into the fall.

Blooming herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines can include:
• Desert Senna (Senna covesii)
• Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)
• Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)
• Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
• Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
• Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)
• Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa)
• Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
• Arizona Foldwing (Dicliptera resupinata)
• Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
• Dyssodia (Thymophylla pentachaeta)
• Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
• Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’)
• Desert Plumbago (Plumbago scandens)
• Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
• Arizona Milkweed (Asclepias angustifolia)
• Lemon Dalea (Dalea capitata)
• Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum ssp.   latifolium)
• Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata)
• Rock Verbena (Glandularia pulchella)
• Showy Menodora (Menodora longiflora)
• Odora (Porophyllum gracile)
• Texas Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
• Hearts and Flowers (Aptenia cordifolia)
• Blood Flower (Asclepias curassavica)
• Marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa)
• Red Sage (Salvia coccinea)
• Pink Sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Brenthurst’)
• Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)
• Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
• Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora)
• Desert Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)
• Mist Flower (Conoclinium dissectum)
• Butterfly Mist (Ageratum corymbosum)
• Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata)
• Baja Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea)
• Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark    Knight’)
• Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
• Yellow Dots (Sphagneticola trilobata)
• White Woolly Twintip (Stemodia durantifolia)
• Rock Penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius)
   
Blooming vines can include:
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Arizona Grape Ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Lavender Trumpet Vine (Clytostoma callistegioides)
• Wait a Minute Vine (Merremia dissecta)
• Pringle’s Clustervine (Jacquemontia pringlei)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
• Snapdragon-vine (Maurandella antirrhiniflora)
   
Blooming shrubs can include:
• Tree Ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii)
• Little-leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)
• Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia)
• Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
• Blue Emu Bush (Eremophila hygrophana)
• Mexican-honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)
• Flame Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)
• Lantana (Lantana camara)
• Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)
• Velvet-pod Mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa)
• Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
• Prairie Acacia (Acaciella angustissima syn. Acacia angustissima)
• Yellow Bells (Tecoma spp.)
• Desert Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus thurberi)
• Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
• Guayacán (Guaiacum coulteri)
• Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
• Rio Bravo  (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’®)
• Heavenly Cloud Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum x ‘Heavenly Cloud’)
• Lynn’s Legacy Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Lynn’s Legacy’)
• Cimarron  (Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’®)
• Silver Nightshade (Solanum hindsianum)
• Arizona Rosewood (Vauquelinia californica)
• Bee Brush (Aloysia gratissima)
• Mexican-oregano (Lippia graveolens)
• Lindheimer’s Senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
• Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)
• San Marcos Hibiscus (Gossypium harknessii)
• Pinky Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus puberulus)
• Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis)
• Sky Flower (Duranta erecta)
• Rosemary Mint (Poliomintha maderensis)
• Indigo Bush (Dalea bicolor var. argyrea)
• Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
• Rose-mallow (Pavonia lasiopetala)
• Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba)
• Graythorn (Ziziphus obtusifolia)
• Shrubby Senna (Senna wislizeni)
• Desert Hackberry (Celtis ehrenbergiana syn. Celtis  pallida)
• Mangle Dulce (Maytenus phyllanthoides)
   
Blooming trees can include:
• Smoke Tree (Psorothamnus spinosus)
• Ironwood (Olneya tesota)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
• Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
• Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
• Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata)
   
Blooming cacti and succulents can include:
• Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)
• Desert  Christmas Cactus (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis)
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Compass Barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
• Coville’s Barrel (Ferocactus emoryi)
• Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni)
• Coast Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus viridescens)
• Turk’s-head Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus hamatacanthus)
• Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
• Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia arbuscula)
• Chain Fruit Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
• Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia tesajo)
• Cane Cholla (Cylindropuntia spinosior)
• Cardón (Pachycereus pringlei)
• Toothpick Cactus (Stetsonia coryne)
• Peruvian Apple (Cereus hildmannianus)
• Coryphantha macromeris
• Beehive Cactus (Escobaria vivipara)
• Cob Cactus (Escobaria tuberculosa)
• Thelocactus bicolor
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis hybrids)
• Red Torch (Echinopsis huascha)
• Torch Cactus (Echinopsis candicans)
• Woolly-headed Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus)
• Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
• Graham’s Fishhook Cactus (Mammillaria grahamii)
• Common Fishhook Cactus (Mammillaria tetrancistra)
• Midnight Lady (Harrisia pomanensis)
• Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
• Elephant Tree (Pachycormus discolor)
• Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri)
• Karoo Roses (Adenium spp.)
• Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Golden-flowered Agave (Agave chrysantha)
• Weber Agave (Agave weberi)
• Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla)
• Desert Agave (Agave deserti)
• Palmer’s Agave (Agave palmeri)
• Schott’s Century Plant (Agave schottii)
• Shaw’s Agave (Agave shawii)
• Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana)
• Harvard’s Agave (Agave havardiana)
• Torote papelillo (Bursera fagaroides)
• Copal (Bursera laxiflora)
• Leatherstem, Limberbush (Jatropha dioica)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Woolly Aloe (Aloe tomentosa)
• Medicinal Aloe (Aloe vera)
• Carrion Flower (Stapelia sp.)
• Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
• Cyphostemma juttae

 

 

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Watering

Proper irrigation to your plants during the summer months is crucial. As the temperatures rise, plant watering needs will also increase. Now is the time to adjust your watering schedule for the summer.

Observe plants regularly for signs of water stress. Some signs to look for include: wilting, curling leaves, yellowing or falling of older leaves, and dead stems or branches. Some plants with larger leaves like Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) and Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus) will often wilt during the hottest part of the day, but by next morning they usually recover. However, if they do not recover by the following morning, it is a good indication they need to be watered.

The amount of water and watering frequency depends on many factors. These include: soil type, weather (temperature, humidity, rainfall, etc.), microclimates, cultural practices, plant size and species, and whether newly planted or established in the landscape (two years or more). Below are general guidelines to help you determine how much and how often to water your landscape and container plantings to keep them healthy when rainfall is lacking.

Established native or desert-adapted trees should be watered at least once a month. If the temperature is over 108 degrees, water your native or desert-adapted trees at least twice during the month. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 3 feet deep for your trees.

Established native or desert-adapted shrubs should be watered every two to three weeks. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 2 feet deep for your shrubs.

See our Desert Gardening Guide for more details on Watering Desert Trees and Shrubs.

Natural rainfall may be adequate for most well-established cacti and succulents. However, if rainfall is insufficient, water may be needed at least once for cactus and twice for succulents during the month of June. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water your cacti and succulents to a depth of at least 8-12 inches.

Established native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered every 2 weeks and at least to a depth of 1 foot. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle.

During the summer native and desert-adapted trees can be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. After planting your trees, they should be watered immediately and the moisture monitored for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Newly planted native and desert-adapted trees may need to be watered more frequently until established. It can take up to 3-5 years for trees to become established in the landscape

Recently planted native or desert-adapted trees should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees. If temperatures are over 108 degrees water every 2-3 days. Unestablished trees that have been in the ground for 2 to 5 years water every 10 days.

Shrubs should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees during their first year in the ground; over 108 degrees water every other day. Water your shrubs during the second year every 10 days if temperatures are over 100 degrees; every 3 days if over 108 degrees. Water your shrubs to a depth of at least 2 feet.

During the summer cacti and other succulents can continue to be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. When planting cacti and succulents, it is imperative to wait a week before watering to minimize the chance of rot. After the initial irrigation of your succulents, allow the soil to dry out and water every 10-14 days. Cacti need to be watered once more after initial watering during the month, but allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Unestablished native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered once to twice weekly if temperatures are over 100 degrees; if over 108 degrees water every other day and water to a depth of at least 1 foot.

Herbs may need to be watered twice weekly and vegetables may need to be watered every 2-3 days. Provide shade to your herbs and vegetables if needed.

Agaves and other succulents (Aloe spp., Madagascar Palm [Pachypodium lamerei], Ponytail Palm [Beaucarnea recurvata], Slipper Plant [Pedilanthus macrocarpus], Euphorbia spp., Haworthia spp.) in large containers should be watered at least once to twice this month. Cacti in containers should be watered at least once this month. However, cacti and succulents in smaller containers may need to be watered more often especially cacti and succulent seedlings.

Many winter-growing succulents including Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp., Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe spp., Cotyledon spp., Echeveria spp, Dudleya spp.) have become inactive. These summer-dormant succulents need to be watered less during the summer months. Water carefully and allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Keep an eye on your warm-season annuals and herbaceous perennials in containers. Water them at least two to three times weekly particularly if they are planted in smaller containers.

If you use pop-up sprinklers to irrigate your landscape, water early in the morning to prevent water loss through evaporation.

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What to Plant

We recommend most plants be planted in the fall or spring. However, if you must plant during the summer months watering may need to be more frequent and you must be diligent about observing your newly planted plants for signs of water stress. Follow the guidelines in the Watering section above.

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation. However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and will not be suitable for your cacti and succulents. You may need to keep the shade cloth on the plant for the duration of the summer.

Plant cacti and warm-season succulents including:
• Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.)
• Barrel cacti (Ferocactus spp.)
• Hedgehogs (Echinocereus spp.)
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis hybrids)
• Pincushions (Mammillaria spp.)
• Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.)
• Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
• Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus)
• Agaves (Agave spp.)
• Aloes (Aloe spp.)
• Red-yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Burseras, Elephant Trees (Bursera spp.)
• Carrion Flowers (Stapelia spp.)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Madagascar-palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
• Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra)
• Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
 

Desert-adapted trees can be planted during the summer months if you follow the guidelines in the Watering section above. When planting native and desert-adapted plants, it is usually unnecessary to back-fill with soil amendments and vitamins or to add rooting hormones. Take a look at our Desert Gardening Guide on How to Plant Desert-Adapted Trees and Shrubs.

Trees to be planted include:
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
• Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Anacacho Orchid-tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Palo Blanco (Mariosousa willardiana syn. Acacia willardiana)
• Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
• Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
• Feather Tree (Lysiloma watsonii)
• Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)
• Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia greggii syn. Acacia greggii)
• Palo Brasil (Haematoxylon brasiletto)
• Mexican Ebony (Havardia mexicana)  
• Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
• Desert Fern (Lysiloma watsonii)
 

Shrubs should be planted in fall or spring.

Herbaceous perennials and groundcovers should be planted in fall or spring. However, many warm-season vines can be planted during the summer months. Water immediately after planting and monitor the moisture for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Water newly planted native and desert-adapted vines twice to three times weekly to a depth of at least a foot. Gradually extend the time between watering and monitor plants regularly for signs of water stress.

Vines to be planted include:  
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Arizona Grape-ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Old Man’s Beard (Clematis drummondii)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Arizona Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica)
        
 
Continue to plant cacti seed.  Seed can be soaked overnight in water to help begin the germination process. Place seed in a well-draining soil mix (½ quality potting soil and ½ perlite or pumice) and lightly cover with potting mix or gently press seed into the soil. Keep soil moist until germination occurs. See our Desert Gardening Guide on Growing Cacti from Seed.

Vegetable seeds to sow include:
• Armenian cucumber
• black-eyed peas
• cantaloupe
• okra
• muskmelons
• yardlong beans
• tepary beans (early month)
    
 
Vegetable to transplant include:  
• sweet potatoes (early in month)
 

 

 

 

 

Many vegetables including some varieties of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers reduce their production of flowering due to the intense summer heat and those that do flower may not produce fruits because the pollen is damaged with temperatures over 90 degrees causing flowers to eventually drop off. Shade these vegetables using at least 30%-50% shade cloth. Apply a layer of mulch around vegetables to help cool the soil and to retain moisture requiring less frequent watering. Depending on the type of tomato plant and if they survive over the summer, they should begin to produce fruit again in the fall. Some smaller tomato fruiting varieties will still continue to produce fruit through the summer months.

Wait until fall or spring to plant most herbs.

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Pruning

Pruning should be done to maintain plant health (remove dead, damaged or diseased portions, cross branching, etc.), to highlight the “natural” shape of the plant, to train a young plant, and to eliminate hazards. Excessive or heavy pruning causes significant stress to trees and shrubs. The best practices are to prune the least amount necessary and prune for legitimate reasons. How much to prune depends on the size, species, age, as well as your intentions. Two good principles to remember—a tree or shrub can recover from several small pruning wounds faster than from a single large wound and never remove more than 25% of the canopy in a year. 

Lightly prune native and desert-adapted trees to prevent breakage during the summer thunderstorms in July and August if needed. Do not prune excessively as this will expose the tree trunk to the blazing sun causing it to sunburn.

Pruning newly planted trees is not recommended and, in fact, can be detrimental. However, at planting time prune broken or torn and diseased branches. Save other pruning activities for the second or third year. For more information on developing a healthy tree visit www.treesaregood.org

Continue to deadhead herbaceous perennials such as Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata), Texas Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), and Tickseeds (Coreopsis spp.).

Prune your cacti if necessary to maintain size, for propagation or to remove a damaged or diseased stem; prune at joint or segment. Use a sharp, clean pruning tool and spray tool periodically with a 70% alcohol solution to prevent infection. If the pruned stem is to be used for propagation, allow the cutting to dry out for a week before planting. Check out our Desert Gardening Guide on Rooting a Cactus Cutting for more information.

Continue to prune spent flowering stalks from Hesperaloes (Hesperaloe spp.), Agaves (Agave spp.), Yuccas (Yucca spp.), and Aloes (Aloe spp.).

Prune flowering stalks after seeds have ripened on Penstemons (Penstemon spp.), Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha), and Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). Shake pruned stalks to disperse seed in selected garden areas or collect seed in paper bag to be planted in fall. You can also allow your seed to fall to the ground naturally thus providing a food source for many seed-eating animals.

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Fertilization

Most native and desert-adapted plants in the landscape do not generally require fertilizer as they are adapted to our soil conditions. In most cases, fertilizers are generally applied to prevent deficiencies. If fertilizers are needed, one application for the year is usually sufficient. The best time to fertilize landscape plants are in March, April or the early part of May.

We do not recommend fertilizing your desert-adapted landscape plants during the summer months. Fertilizing will cause excessive, luxuriant growth that requires more water and new growth is too tender to take the excessive heat and sun exposure. Wait until next spring to fertilize, if needed.

For more information on fertilizing and plant deficiencies go to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Publications.

Periodic fertilizing may be needed for plants in containers as nutrients in the soil will have diminished over time. Always follow directions on the label.

Continue to fertilize your warm-season annuals and herbaceous and woody perennials in containers if necessary.  

Cacti and warm-season succulents in containers should be fertilized at least once during the month depending on the type of fertilizer used. If using a slow-release granular fertilizer for your cacti and succulents in containers, fertilize in late March and again in July. Do not fertilize any winter-growing succulents such as Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp., Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe, Cotyledon, Echeveria, Dudleya) as they are summer dormant.

Continue to fertilize your vegetable and herb garden as needed.

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Problems

The male cicadas’ mating calls are a cacophony of sound that permeates the desert air and often heralds to the gardener that summer has arrived. The Apache cicada is common to low-desert regions and the adult has a mostly black body with a pale band behind its head. The nymphs spend almost their entire life underground feeding on the roots of many desert trees, shrubs and other ornamentals. As the nymph becomes an adult, it will then surface from the soil and will undergo one last shedding of its exoskeleton. The adult cicada will feed on the plant sap of many urban trees or shrubs. After mating, females will make small “hatch” marks on the slender tips of trees or shrubs to lay their eggs. This physical damage can cause the tips to “die” back, but is not detrimental to the plant and is often thought of as “natural pruning”. There is no need to control cicadas as they are part of the desert ecology. Allow natural predators to control the population as many birds and lizards find the cicada nymph and adult to be a tasty treat.

If we had a dry spring, rabbits may be nibbling on plants that they may not have eaten before. Most mature plants can handle rabbit sampling, but newly planted plants should be protected until they have attained a larger size. Protect plants with a wire cage or spray Liquid Fence TM to help deter these animals. For more information on rabbit-resistant plants, see our Desert Gardening Guide.

Fine webbing between leaves or stippling on leaves may indicate the presence of spider mites. These plant mites cause damage by sucking contents from the leaves and are difficult to detect due to their small size. Plants that are water stressed may become susceptible to infestation. Dusty conditions can also lead to spider mite outbreaks. Make sure your plants are well-watered and wash off accumulated dust on plants to manage spider mite problems. You can also remove by using a fast spray of water or by spraying insecticidal soap to control populations. There are many biological controls that feed on spider mites including lacewings, predatory mites, lady bugs and big-eyed bugs. Using insecticides is not recommended as insecticides do not help manage the population, but can actually cause the population to intensify. Insecticides used will often kill their natural enemies and can even accelerate mite reproduction.

Agave snout weevils become active during the warm months and infestation may not be apparent until it is too late. For detailed information on the life cycle, symptoms, prevention and treatment go to our Agave Snout Weevil Desert Gardening Guide.

If you notice a rank odor and black ooze dripping down the saguaro stem(s), the plant may have developed an infection as a result of an injury or frost damage. The infection is caused by the Erwinia bacteria, a common bacterium found in the environment.  For more information on saguaros and how to care for a saguaro that is infected go to our Desert Gardening Guide.

Cochineal scale, the cottony, white substance on your Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.) and Chollas (Cylindropunita spp.) may be active now. Remove by using a fast stream of water or spray insecticidal soap.

The large, black-brown beetle bumbling onto your porch during the sweltering summer nights is the Palo Verde Beetle. It has just emerged from its subterranean home looking for a mate. For the past two to four years it has lived underground as a grub or larva feeding on the roots of many native and non-native plants, not just Palo Verde trees as the common name suggests. When the grubs become adults they will surface and can be seen in late June, July, August and September particularly after rainfall. Once the female adults mate, they lay their eggs and die soon after making their life span about one month. Using insecticides is not recommended as the beetle is already gone by the time you notice any damage. To prevent root borers keep your plants healthy as possible as they seldom cause problems to healthy plants.  There are many natural predators of the adult beetle including roadrunners, coyotes, owls and even bobcats. Grubs are eaten by skunks.

Would you like to remove your Bermuda grass lawn?  The hot summer months are the best times to begin treatment for eradicating Bermuda grass. For more information check out our Desert Gardening Guide on Bermuda Grass Removal.

For more information on diseases or problems of landscape plants go to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension publication or the University of California UC IPM Online.

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